Thomas Iliffe's Portrait

Thomas Iliffe

Professor

Biography

Thomas Iliffe has discovered more than 250 new species of marine life – some of which have been named after him – and has explored over 1,500 underwater caves from around the Caribbean, South Pacific, Mediterranean and North Atlantic oceans.

While most people consider Earth to be completely explored, Iliffe still manages to find sites where no human has ever been and often discovers strange and mysterious new forms of life.

Following 11 years as a research associate at the Bermuda Biological Station where he initiated diving investigations into the biology of marine caves, he joined Texas A&M at Galveston in 1989 as a lecturer at the Galveston campus. He is currently a full professor of marine biology, teaching graduate and undergraduate courses in biospeleology (cave biology), scientific diving and tropical marine ecology.

As an internationally renowned marine researcher, Iliffe has explored, scientifically investigated and worked tirelessly to protected underwater caves since his first dive in 1972 in Florida’s Manatee Springs State Park. Since then, he’s been in more than 1,500 underwater caves, the most of anyone in the world, and along the way he has found time to discover more than 300 forms of marine life, seven of which have been named for him.

He led a team of nine other divers who descended 462 feet into Phantom Springs Cave in West Texas, making it the deepest underwater cave in the United States. His work has drawn media attention from around the world and been featured on such outlets as The National Geographic Channel and The Discovery Channel and others.

He earned an MS in oceanography from Florida State University and a PhD in biochemistry from The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston.